Eita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
GOVERNMENT has to date paid US$64,4 million to 93 former commercial farmers for the improvements they made on reallocated farms, a senior official has said.
Presenting a Ministerial Statement on the State of Economy in Parliament last night, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government was committed to finalising compensation for all farmers who were affected by the land reform programme in accordance with the country’s Constitution and obligations under bilateral agreements. “As outlined in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, Government is committed to finalising compensation for all former farmers affected by the land reform programme.
“Government is also engaging development partners and other bilateral countries with a view to mobilising the requisite resources.
“Since 2009 to date, US$64, 4 million was paid to 93 former commercial farmers as compensation for immovable improvements. In 2018 alone, US$12 million was paid towards the same to 29 farmers. In the 2019 National Budget, we set aside US$53 million for the same purpose,” he said.
Minister Ncube said the process of compensation involved the evaluation of assets to ascertain the extent of Government’s obligation to former commercial farmers owing to the magnitude of resources required.
He said Government had been working with the former commercial farmers to identify qualifying beneficiaries.
“The process is now complete. Currently, Government is in the process of vetting the identified members as a verification exercise to trigger disbursements.
“Compensating the affected farmers is a noble idea and is in keeping with our Constitutional dispensation,” Minister Ncube said.
On the land audit, Minister Ncube said the exercise had constituted six percent of targeted land covering more than 18 000 farmers.
“The audit indicated gross underfunding of the agricultural sector and recommended the establishment of a land and agricultural bank to facilitate funding for resettled farmers.
“It further recommended an integrated land information management system to address shortcomings related to fraudulent land allocations, rampant illegal leasing of land and gross underutilisation which is materially affecting agricultural output,” he said.
Minister Ncube said preparations for the second phase of the land audit will be rolled out end of May in all the remaining districts across the 10 provinces.
“The land audit will help inform Government’s agricultural policies, development of strategies for increasing productivity and also promoting social equity and environmental sustainability,” he said.
On the progress of the 99-year leases, the Finance Minister said Government was working with the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe to ensure bankability.